of Basketball Prospectus
with a typically thoughtful and insightful look at tanking
, including some thoughts on the situation currently facing the Portland Trail Blazers.
In my experience, fans are usually more supportive of tanking than anyone. That's why, this time of year, we often see "tank standings" on message boards and blogs. From a fan standpoint, there's a useful asymmetry of attention. It's easy to stop watching games and following obsessively during a lost season only to step up your fandom as soon as a team starts winning again. Even for fans resigned to sitting through the entire year, better that it at least yields a promising talent, right?
I find something more rewarding about watching young players lose games than seeing veterans clearly heading nowhere. These rookies and prospects, no matter how promising they really are, represent some kind of hope for the future. As I've often borrowed from USC coach Kevin O'Neill and repeated in this space, NBA teams are either selling wins or they're selling hope. Taking that hope, in the form of lottery picks, from losing teams would be crushing to their ability to keep fans engaged.
From that standpoint, I find aggressive rebuilding to be a victimless crime and a crucial part of managing a team. Tanking is more sinister, in that it robs the rest of the league of the level playing field we expect and demand, especially during a playoff race. I just don't think it's that common in the NBA outside of seasons, like 2006-07, when the top of the draft is considered exceptionally strong.
In the FanShots
has a link to former Blazers GM Rich Cho explaining how to rebuild.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter